NEW YORK – Individual Americans around the country are thinking of creative ways to show U.S. troops abroad that they have the support of their country while the United States is at war with Iraq.
National Guard troops from Rhode Island who have been deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom are getting little pieces of home in the mail.
About two weeks before Christmas, Warwick Veterans Memorial High School junior Brandie Cambio decided to round up some fellow students to send postcards adorned with Rhode Island scenery to the state's 800-plus National Guardsmen deployed.
Brandie's brother, a Marine, was deployed to Somalia and Kuwait a few years ago. She got the idea by watching a news report telling of a class of young children writing letters to troops abroad.
"I was saying if a little class could do it, imagine if a school could do it," Brandie told Foxnews.com.
Local businesses donated the postcards and rounded up more helping hands than she bargained for on the project. She called the Red Cross for help in delivering the letters, which were sent out in February.
"A lot of them [the students] didn't really think it was going to be a big thing ... but then when they found out they were going overseas, they were really impressed," Brandie said. "I didn't realize it would be this big."
And the troops couldn't be happier.
"They're saying they appreciate it — it brings up their hope — brings them more of a reason to fight," Brandie said.
When the postcards ran out, students and teachers cut up index and Christmas cards and wrote on those. Brandie plans to launch a similar project next year.
Now she's encouraging students in other regions to help out in similar campaigns because it reminds American troops that they have people at home who are thinking of them.
"It's a big deal to them. My brother said he used to love it so much when they get mail," Brandie said. "When someone doesn't have mail and everyone else gets something, it makes them depressed … it makes them feel good to get something — to know that people care."
School principal Donald Brown said other groups of students are also beginning to think of various projects to support the troops, such as sending videos, books or magazines overseas.
"With recent deployments, several of the kids' parents are being deployed as well, so they're getting into groups to figure out what they can do to help," Brown told Foxnews.com.
The senior class did this last year, and the troops were "very appreciative," Brown said.
"They're putting their heads together to think of things to do — it makes them feel better and we think it helps," he said.
Pamela Bates launched "Hugs to Kuwait" on Jan. 4.
A military spouse herself, Bates wanted to start a program where Americans could "adopt a soldier" and write to them on a regular basis. "Hugs to Kuwait" started for B Battery, 1st Battalion, 10 Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. It took only two days for all the soldiers to be adopted.
Large companies such as Microsoft have even called asking to participate.
"It’s not just me doing this — it's everyone pulling together and volunteering to adopt. This is what America should be like," Bates told the Fort Benning Bayonet. "When I get down in the dumps, I read the letters that people send to me thanking me for setting up the program, and it always picks me back up."
Bates told Fox News that she has arranged the adoption of over 9,800 soldiers. She received 17,000 requests one weekend alone on how to adopt a soldier, and 18,000 people have actually applied for the activity.
Troops and military families got handmade valentines last month, courtesy of "Operation Heart to Heart."
Thousands of cards bearing messages of support made by fourth- and fifth-graders around the country were sent out.
Handmade American flag posters and drawings were sent from Dothan, Ala., last September to special operators deployed.
Children from Dothan's Girard Elementary School wanted to show their support, especially of the men and women of Air Force Special Operations Command's 280 Combat Communications Squadron, Alabama Air National Guard, which is located in Dothan.
"In my travels as a military member, I have seen little reminders of home that each service member brings with them to deployed locations. Some have pictures of their family either on the desk, hanging on the inside of the tent, stuck to the dash of the vehicle or taped to the inside of their helmet," Maj. Robert Bell, director of operations for that squadron, told Night Flyer News Service.
"Each item is a reminder of why we are here."